I have been ordained now for over two years. Occasionally, I will hear a deacon say, “I don’t think I am doing enough!” (making reference to what he perceives his ministry to be in the parish or diocese).
Perhaps more frequently, my brother deacons are saying, “I have no time; I am over committed!”
Do you think you are not doing enough? Or too much? What say ye, deacon?
Diaconal ministry is not about always doing more.
It is about doing what is right in front of you with the grace of the diaconate.
Remember, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council envisioned the restored diaconate as a ministry largely focused on bringing the sacramental presence of Jesus the Servant into the secular world…. this means our workplaces and our families.
Regardless of what your occupation is, or the particulars of your family structure and life, our primary ministry lies in our occupations and families, not in trying to keep busy with “real ministry.” For many of us, our real ministry is being Christ the Servant in our offices, factories, union shops, businesses and schools…. all places where we work and to which we are sent as deacons by God and our bishops.
Those of us who are married know full well (if we don’t we are in real trouble) that it is in the context of our marital relationship we first discover our diakonia. We fail as married deacons if we forget or neglect this foundational aspect of ministry.
So the concern, “Am I doing enough?” belies, I think, a misunderstanding of the deacon’s call. We are not primarily parochial. We are diocesan and we are to go where our bishop cannot often go…. into the places of the laity who hunger for the presence of Jesus… into marriage and family life…. and we are to go as deacons conformed to Jesus the Servant and in the name of our bishop.
Then we bring it all to the altar, in service to the bishop, and to the Lord.
Then, we proclaim the Word in the assembly, and we baptize and marry and bury.
Then we teach.
Only then we are able to let our bishop know what the needs of his flock are, and how to respond to them.
Don’t forget that for which the Church has restored the Order… and ordained us…. to be conformed to Christ the Servant and bring the Church into the daily events of our lives and the world.
Evangelize where you are. You don’t have to look beyond what is in front of you. Bring all of that to the altar, and then notify the bishop of the needs of his people.
If you are doing that, you are doing enough. We are full-time deacons, aren’t we? Always full-time.